Tag Archives: alcohol

Two Wintertime Cocktails


I have a problem calling these wintertime cocktails.  I’ve seen no snow, no gusting winds, no blizzards that force mass-exodus-style trips to the grocery store followed by 2 or 3 days of hunkering down in the house, eating beef stew and peeking out the window as the plow goes by to see how high he’s piled up snow at the end of your driveway.  This meek and mild “winter,” pfft, has been downright enjoyable.  Not that I have a problem with it… but clearly, I do have a teeny tiny problem with it.

Even if you happen to be in southern California or up in the Yukon, these cocktails might help fill a small missing piece on a Friday or Saturday evening.  I know I was searching for something by the time happy hour came around on Friday, and these hit the spot.

1. Heidi’s Blood Orange Gin Sparkler.  I only had two blood oranges so I juiced a naval along with it, and it definitely worked.  I had misremembered the recipe that I read earlier in the day and used club soda on the first drink, but found that I preferred the called-for tonic.   These are too good! And I can’t wait to try these with grapefruit, or a grapefruit-0range combo next weekend…

Edit: I couldn’t hold off for long.  Fresh grapefruit juice is, dare I say, even better than the blood orange juice?! Divine.  A perfect shade of light pink, and brighter-n-lighter in flavor, too. Plan for approximately half a large grapefruit per drink.

2.  Rhubarb Rosemary sparklers.  In an attempt to use up the rosemary-infused simple syrup in the aforementioned gin sparkler recipe, I remembered the jars of rhubarb liqueur I had stowed away last summer.   Rosemary and rhubarb…  beyond alliteration, did they have a chance to work in harmony? I say yes.  I had used a mix of the sweet pink and tart green stalks, and the savory-sweet syrup compliments the tart-sweet liqueur.

Rhubarb & rosemary sparkler
Serves 1

2 oz. rhubarb liqueur
1 oz. rosemary simple syrup
2 to 3 oz. club soda
Pour over ice and stir in a highball or Collins glass.

Muted, earthy, and perfect for a quiet winter night in.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Beverage, Condiments, etc., Winter

Beer Bread



Easiest. Bread. Ever.  And fast, too.  It keeps for 4-5 days and has staple ingredients. It’s easily customizable– use whatever kind of beer you want, and that’s the flavor that you’ll get in the bread.

The best part: absolutely delicious.

Basic Beer Bread
adapted from The Novice Chef

3 c. bread or AP flour
1 t. salt
3 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
12 oz. beer
2 T. butter

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a bread pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the beer, being careful not to foam over the edges of the bowl.  Let it sit for a minute, then carefully whisk into the dry ingredients.

Spoon the batter into your greased bread pan. Slice the butter into 3 or 4 equal pieces and arrange on top of the batter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is firm when pressed down.  Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

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Filed under Breads, Fall, Winter

Penne à la Vodka

I was surprised by this dish.  I had never had penne à la vodka, but I expected… well, honestly, I expected a bit more.  The vodka flavor was subtle, which I was pleased with.  But there isn’t much for herbs in many penne à la vokda recipes that I looked at.  Some basil, a dash of red pepper flakes, and… that’s it.

Not that it wasn’t good, because it was. It was very good.

Just… simple.  And I liked it.  I could use more simple.

Penne à la Vodka
Adapted from Rachel Ray, via Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4

1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 c. vodka
1 c. chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
16 ounces penne pasta
1/2 c. heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil or ~1 t. dried basil

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots; saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vodka to the pan and reduce vodka by half, stirring (this will take 2 or 3 minutes).  Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring sauce bubbling and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper and add red pepper flakes

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente. Stir your simmering pasta sauce occasionally.

Once the pasta is nearly ready, stir the cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil.  Serve with freshly grate parmesan (optional).

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Main dishes, Pasta, Vegetarian